Over the years we have lost many of our traditional wildflower and hay meadows, remember the poppies and cornflowers and the butterflies and birds they attracted. Although the planting of motorway verges and banks with grass and wild flowers like Ox eye daisy. Cowslip and Primrose is helping, its no longer easy to find wildflower meadows to enjoy in the countryside. Read how easy it is to change a lawn into a wild lawn and grow a mini wildflower meadow at home.
Medicinal Herbs and Wildflowers growing in your garden lawn attract butterflies back into your garden On this page Wildflowers that can be grown in a Wildflower lawn (mini meadow) How to grow your own wildflower lawn at home What are the wildflowers growing on motorway verges
Growing and planting a wildflower lawn How to grow a wildflower meadow.
Over the years we have lost many of our British traditional wildflower and hay meadows, remember the poppies and cornflowers and the butterflies and birds they attracted. Although the planting of motorway verges and banks with grass and wildflowers is helping, also making motorway driving more interesting and enjoyable, its no longer easy to find flowering hay meadows to enjoy in the countryside. The white daisy like flowers with yellow centers you can see on the motorway verges, are Oxeye daisies, easy to grow and self seeding in the right soil. Suttons seed shop linked from my gardeners online shop, supply Oxeye daisy and other wildflower seeds.
Its easy to create and grow a wildflower lawn or mini meadow in your own garden. Wildlife of all kinds will appreciate your effort and visit your wild lawn, Human visitors to your garden too, especially older folk who can still remember the poppy fields and cornflowers and have chewed a stem of wild grass will reminisce about those days. Young kids who have never rolled around in wild grass will simply love it. A wild lawn is low maintenance requiring cutting only about twice a year (more about that later) and is also very beautiful when in full flower so most important of all, a couple of good reasons YOU will enjoy it too.
What is a wild lawn or mini wildflower meadow. A hay meadow was an area of grassland that was grown for hay to feed for the farm livestock over winter. The grass was cut for hay in July and August, by then the wildflowers and grasses would have shed there seeds to reproduce the following seasons display of wild flowers,and the cows were allowed back into the freshly cut meadow to graze through until early spring. In severe winters most farmers housed the herd and fed them with the hay.
How to grow a wildflower lawn and wildflower mini meadow.
A wild lawn is not as neat and tidy as a chemical lawn and its not immediately obvious that you are creating something beautiful, so if you are worried about your neighbors or family thinking you have lost the plot or neglecting your lawn, you might want to fence off the area you are going to let go wild. The best and cheapest way is to erect a simple rustic fence of half posts set on round posts. "What are you growing there?" chemical lawn man will ask, instead of "what's the old bugger doing now ?"
Traditional wildflower meadows can contain up to 100 species of flowering plants. Some competing with the grass ( this is why they have been killed of with the use of chemicals on chemical dependant farms) and some germinated in the small open areas churned up by animal hoofs.
The grasses and wildflowers you can seed (or encourage naturally over a longer period) will depend on the type of soil in your garden some prefer clay some sandy, some saturated and some dry but all prefer poor soil. I have listed wildflowers and the types of soil including acid soil, sandy soil,loam, clay sole and saturated soil and on the banks of wildlife ponds further down this page. If you are planning to create a wildflower mini meadow in your garden or let an existing lawn go wild the most important thing to do is to stop using fertilisers NOW to reduce the fertility of the soil.
No need to remove the existing turf to create a wild lawn or meadow. Most domestic lawn grasses are not that vigorous, but competition by the grass can be reduced by sowing Yellow Rattle seed into the lawn. Its parasitic on the roots of grasses, and once established will reduce the growth of the grass by about 50%. Yellow Rattle grows in all established wildflower meadows and is sown between August and December as it needs a period of cold to germinate.
How to Introduce wild meadow flowers into your lawn There are three ways to get wild meadow flowers growing in your wild lawn:
How to Let it happen naturally It will take a long time especially in a lawn that is isolated from a wild meadow. If you are lucky enough to have a wild meadow fairly near to you, wind and birds will speed this up. Leaving it to nature to seed your wild flower lawn If you choose the first method and allow your lawn to turn into a wild lawn naturally, the first wildflowers to appear will be the low rosette type lawn weeds, including daisies, plantains and cat's ear and the creeping plants such as selfheal and the speedwells. As your wild lawn or meadow establishes, the height of the grass will increase and the taller plants and wild meadow flowers will appear and the daisies and other low growing wild flowers will gradually disappear in some areas of the wild lawn. Airborne seeds and seeds delivered by birds will slowly begin to build up turning your lawn into a beautiful wildflower meadow. With this method you won't need to be concerned with the type of soil you have. Natural selection will be at work in your garden.
Transplanting wildflowers its time consuming and expensive but will speed up the appearance of wildflowers in your lawn. How to Transplant container grown wild meadow flowers Transplanting meadow wildflowers from pots or plugs directly into your wild lawn is the quickest way to establish wildflowers in your wild lawn and can be bought online as pot plants or as plugs, and planted direct into the wild lawn. Container-grown wild flowers can be planted out in autumn to establish over winter or planted in early spring before the grass has grown to tall. The wild lawn/wild flower meadow area needs to be mown short before planting, making sure to remove the cut grass to your compost heap. Try to mix the species and plant the wildflower plants informally , as if seed had blown in on the breeze. Depending on your budget plant as many as you can for a quick effect, but remember they will reseed in the Autumn after flowering, eventually covering the whole wild flower lawn. You will need to choose plants that will grow in the type of soil in your garden
Sowing wildflower seeds Its a bit slower than transplanting ready-grown plants, but achieves the best results in the long run and is relatively cheap.
How to Sow wildflower seed into your existing lawn Sowing wild meadow flowers into your lawn is a bit slower than transplanting but is a lot cheaper and produces the best results in the long run. Grass preparation is fairly easy. You will need to cut the grass very short and remove the clippings from the lawn. Then firmly rake the area removing as much of the thatch as possible to create open areas where seeds can get to the soil and germinate.
Sow in autumn using a wild flower mix that suits your type of soil, at about1.5g per square metre. Then rake the area over after sowing to help the seed into the soil.As the seedlings start to show in the late autumn or spring, you will need to give your new wild flower lawn a mow, setting the blade fairly high to about 3in, this allows light to reach the emerging seedlings. In the following seasons your wild flower lawn should be left to grow to its natural height, to allow the flowers to naturally spread there seeds. More about this next.
How to Maintain a wildflower meadow and lawn In the second and following seasons allow your wild flower lawn or meadow to grow to its full height and go to seed. Think about the cycle a wildflower meadow goes through !! Spring germination, late spring and summer flowering. late summer producing seed, Autumn spreading those seeds, dying off in Winter and then in Springtime starting all over again. What a treat you are in for. A wild flower meadow would be cut for hay in July or August. A wild flower lawn is best cut in August in warm dry weather, after flowering and when the wild flowers have gone to seed. When you cut the hay meadow in late July/early August, try to leave a strip of about 2ft around the edge to provide nectar for the butterflies.
Leave the Grass and wild flowers on the ground for about a week, this will allow the seeds that haven't yet dropped to dry out fall into the soil.When you rake up and remove the meadow grass and wild flowers from your lawn to the compost heap, try not to carry it over a lawn or area of garden you want to keep clear off weeds. The hay will still be full of wild flower and weed seeds. One more thing, remember I told you the cows are let back into the meadow to graze once the hay had been harvested, well unless you can borrow a cow you will need to mow your wild flower lawn now and then through winter if the weather allows, not forgetting to collect the clipping the cows would have chewed on.
If the wildflower lawn extends into trees or a wildlife hedge, grass banks and stony areas etc. the greater the diversity of the grasses and wildflowers you will be able to grow. I have included a guide to the types of Soil and the wild meadow flowers that will grow in them on this page.
Wildflowers that will grow in different types of soil including acid soil, sandy soil,loam, clay sole and saturated soil and on the banks of wildlife ponds are listed below.
How to remove Rye grass from a lawn When converting an existing lawn you will need to remove all trace of rye grass as it compete vigorously with your wild flowers. Selective lawn Weed killers wont work.The only options are to meticulously dig the rye grass out, making sure none is left to spread its way back into your wildflower lawn. Or remove the complete lawn and resow with a hay meadow mix of seeds.
Types of Soil and the wild meadow flowers that will grow and thrive in them
The wild flowers you choose, whether you are transplanting container grown wild meadow flowers, or sowing wild flower seeds must suit your type of soil. Acid clay, Chalk or Sandy soil. I have listed a few species of wild flowers and the soil they thrive in best.
Acid: Wild Basil, ladys Bedstraw, Betony, birds-foot-trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, White Campion, Cats-ear, Oxeye daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Common Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Ribwort Plantain, Ragged Robin, Perforate St Johns-wort, Scabious Devils Bit, Selfheal, Common Sorrel, Common Toadflax, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle/Field scabious.
Chalk and limestone: Agrimony, Wild Basil, Ladys Bedstraw, Birds-foot-trefoil, Burnet Salad, Wild Carrot, Cowslip, Oxeye Daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Common and Greater Knapweed, Black Medic, Wild Migonette, Hoary Plantain, Field and Small Scabious, Selfheal, Kidney Vetch, Yarrow, Yellow-Rattle/Field Scabious.
Sandy soil: Ladys Bedstraw, Common Birds-foot-trefoil, Bladder Campion, Wild Carrot, Oxeye Daisy, Dandelion, Field Forget-me-not, Rough Hawkbit, Common Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Black Medick, Wild Mignonette, Hoary Plantain, St Johns-wort, Selfheal, Kidney Vetch, Vipers-bugloss, Weld, Yarrow, Yellow-Rattle/Field Scabious.
Saturated soil, Wild Pond and streams banks etc. Wild Angelica, Water Avens, Hedge Bedstraw, Birds-foot-trefoil, Red & White Campion, Chicory, Red Clover, Oxeye Daisy, Dames Violet, Dandelion, Hemp-agrimony, Common and Greater Knapweed, Wild Marjoram, Black Medic, Yellow Melilot, Wild Migonette, Garlic Mustard, Scabious, Field and Small Devils-bit, Selfheal, Soapwort, Wild Teasel, Red Valerian, Common Horseshoe and Kidney Vetch, Vipers-bugloss.
Coastal areas Species Include :- Ladys Bedstraw, Common Birds-foot-trefoil, Sea Campion, Wild Carrot, Cats-ear, Common Centuary, Oxeye Daisy, Common Evening-primrose, Foxglove, Harebell, Hounds-tongue, Common Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Wild Parsnip, Sea Plantain, Greater Plantain, St Johns-wort, Sheeps Bit, Wild Thyme, Tansy, Alexanders, Everlasting Pea Narrow Leaved, Common Toadflax, Kidney Vetch and Vipers-bugloss.
And some of the more common grasses found in an Olde English hay meadow: Browntop Bent, Red Fescue, Crested Dogstail, Meadow Fescue, Smooth Stalk Meadow Grass and Yorkshire Fog.
Creating a wildflower lawn or mini meadow from scratch.
If the area contains very fertile soil you will need to remove the top 2 or 3 inches, wild grasses and wild meadow flowers grow in poor soil, for a large area, hiring a digger will save you a lot of time and sweat.
Wildflowers cannot compete over the long term with lush weed growth, so it's best to start with a completely weed-free site. This will mean digging out any existing plants or using a weedkiller .
Next work out the type of soil you have in your garden, Acid clay, Chalk, Loam, Saturated or Sandy soil. Now select a mix of Wildflowers and Grasses that will thrive in the type of soil in your garden from the shop below.
Follow the sowing instructions on the packet and create a wildflower lawn.
The tips on this page should help grow and maintain your wildflower mini meadow.
If you want the hard work done for you contact Mike,
Scroll on down for the Butterflies your wild lawn and mini wildflower meadow will attract
Suttons RSPB Wildflower Seeds, Wildlife attracting seeds and flower seeds to attract butterflys
flowers to attract birds, butterflys and other wildlife to your garden.
For every pack sold, Suttons are donating 5p to the RSPB.
Wildflowers tolerant of shaded conditions. Includes Wild Foxglove, Oxlip, Columbine and Wood Sage.
Popular and colourful annual wild flowers including Field Poppy, Field Cornflower, Corn Marigold and many others.
And the wildflowers you see on the verges and banks of our motorways like Ox eye daisy Also known as the Dog Daisy and Cowslip Seeds and Primrose seeds
see the full range of Suttons wildflower seeds by clicking on the pictures
Wild flower lawn seed A blend of grasses and colourful wild flowers! Create your own little wildlife habitat with Suttons Wildflower Lawn! Wild Flower Lawn seed contains a special blend of grass varieties, selected for quick establishment, combined with a colourful blend of wild flowers. Available in the following sizes: 150gm Patch Pack - for sowing up to 28 sq. metres & 375gm Pack - for sowing up to 70 sq. metres of lawn.
How to test the Type of Soil in your garden and select wild meadow flowers that will grow and thrive.
Click for Wild flower lawn seed
Butterflies your wild lawn and mini wildflower meadow will attract
Even in the early seasons your mini wildflower meadow will attract butterflies, providing nectar in the form of wildflowers and the plant and grasses providing food for the caterpillar and larvae enabling butterflies to complete their life cycle.
Up to the 1950?s, the countryside of our green and pleasant land, was full of wildflowers, by the roadside, in country lanes, along the hedges and in meadows. Encouraged by the chemical companies and the low prices the supermarkets were willing to pay the farmers for British farm produce, farmers ploughed up the traditional wild flower meadows to reseed them with hybrid rye grasses or arable crops removing the most important source of nectar and food, butterflies, caterpillars and larvae needed to survive. Ploughing of unfertilised meadows and the use of herbicide and fertiliser has wiped out wild flowers and the effect on butterfly populations has been disastrous. One estimate is that about 97% of flower-rich meadows have been lost over the past 50 years.
Wild lawns or a mini wildflower meadows grown in our gardens are helping to balance this, as is the move by responsible farmers toward organic farming and direct selling of there produce at farmers markets thus breaking away from chemical dependency and the stranglehold of the supermarket buyers. A little bit of good news for our native wildflowers and the butterflies and other wildlife dependant on the traditional English meadows and wildflower lawns.
Let your lawn go wild today and once again see and enjoy butterflies in your garden. . The butterflies you will attract, depend on the type of soil and wildflowers that will grow in it.
I have listed a few of the commoner butterflies you will attract into your garden and the wildflowers and grasses they need to survive on my meadow butterflies page.